Chicago, Illinois – On Monday, a recent study presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Society for Neuroscience: Neuroscience 2015, has revealed that weak connections in brain networks found in premature babies may lead to cognitive problems associated with attention, communication and process of emotions as they get older.
Principal investigator, Cynthia Rogers, a doctor specialized in child psychiatry at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, stated, “The brain is particularly ‘plastic’ very early in life and potentially could be modified by early intervention. We usually can’t begin interventions until after symptoms develop, but what we’re trying to do is develop objective measures of brain development in preemies that can indicate whether a child is likely to have later problems so that we can intervene with extra support and therapy early on to try to improve outcomes,” as the Washington University newsroom reported.
After studying brain scans from premature and full-term babies researchers concluded that an increased risk of neurological and psychiatric problems were found on premature babies.
Investigators used two types of brain imaging during the study: diffusion tensor and functional magnetic resonance. They compared 58 babies born at full term with 76 infants born premature, at least 10 weeks early.
Rogers confirmed that several variances were found in the images of these two categories of patients, “We found significant differences in the white matter tracts and abnormalities in brain circuits in the infants born early, compared with those of infants born at full term.”
The greatest differences between full-term and preterm babies were found among the resting-state networks, specifically in the default mode network and in the frontoparietal network.
These findings may lead to the association of premature babies with emotional impairments that have been linked to ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.
This is an on-going study since investigators want to determine if brain circuit abnormalities add to problems as children get older. A new set of scans were evaluated now that the children have reached the ages 2 and 5. Further studies will be performed when they reach the ages of 9 and 10.
Source: Red Orbit